Google Reveals New Home Mini Powered By Google Assistant

Bill Rogers
October 5, 2017

It was only a week prior to Home Mini's announcement that Amazon unveiled the Echo Spot - a small, more ball-shaped Echo with a screen and enhanced capabilities.

It was about time, too.

The device is a small, circular puck, with a plastic base and fabric top. Google is playing catch up now with new Google Home improvements: aside from including support for your phone number, United Kingdom users will also be able to make phone calls with the Home, with all the U.S. features.

For instance, users can attach separate Google accounts to the Assistant and have Google Home recite different calendar appointments depending on the voice it hears.

That puts it in direct competition with Apple's forthcoming HomePod, which is also leaning on sound quality as a differentiator, as well as the new Amazon Echo Plus. It will come in coral, chalk, and charcoal colors, so hopefully, two out of those three will fit in with your home's decor (the coral color might be polarizing). By subscribing to the Nest Aware subscription, you will also be able to take advantage from the facial recognition feature.

It's available for pre-order right away, and available in seven countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and U.S., including Japan - the new country that was announced at the Google event. It will be available in retail stores on October 19.

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We should have in mind that Google Home already had phone call functionality.

But what's the difference between the Google Home Mini and its regular-sized alternative? Essentially, you can say, "Hey Google, play that song that has that has this lyric". The UI is also filled with fun new transitions and floating buttons, along with access to your devices in the top right corner (that's not new) and the slideout menu. This will be available in all seven countries. It can even call your friends for free (in the United States and Canada, the feature is coming to the United Kingdom later this year). Other territories weren't announced at the event. It also supports touch gestures to control the audio.

The device employs machine learning to help its pair of far field mics to pick up your voice commands even during loud music playback.

In terms of connectivity, there's dual-band WiFi with MIMO and Bluetooth. It knows what you mean when you ask, "How do I get to work?", for instance.

Regardless, it's clear Google is taking its place in the smart speaker market seriously.

Whether or not the Google Home Mini will be a better purchase than the Echo Dot is anyone's guess.

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